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Transforming a Computer Graphics Department from Traditional Education Methods to a Polytechnic Approach

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Something New??? within Engineering Design Graphics Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1601.1 - 26.1601.14



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Paper Authors


Patrick E. Connolly Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Patrick Connolly is a professor and interim department head of the Department of Computer Graphics Technology in the College of Technology at Purdue University. He has extensive experience in the aerospace design and CAD/CAE software industries, and has been serving in higher education for almost twenty years. Dr. Connolly has a BS degree in Design and Graphics Technology and an MS in Computer Integrated Manufacturing from Brigham Young University, and a PhD in Educational Technology from Purdue University. His research interests include spatial ability development, virtual and augmented reality applications, product data and lifecycle management, and innovative classroom methodologies.

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Esteban Garcia Bravo Purdue University


Gary R. Bertoline Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Gary R. Bertoline is the Dean of the College of Technology and a Distinguished Professor of Computer Graphics Technology and Computer & Information Technology at Purdue University. He earned his PhD at The Ohio State University and was on the faculty in the College of Engineering for 3 years before coming to Purdue University in 1990. From 1995 through 2002, Gary served as Department Head of Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University. He also served 5-years as the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs in the College of Technology before becoming dean of the college

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Raymond Patrick Hassan Purdue University

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Transforming a Computer Graphics Department from Traditional Education Methods to a Polytechnic ApproachThe computer graphics department at a major research institution in the United States of Americais undergoing a radical transformation involving the transition of teaching methods, classroomstructure, instructor roles, and student autonomy. There are many challenges impacting thistransformation, including resource allocations of time, space, and faculty/student ratio demands,how to manage both ‘legacy’ programs for existing students concurrently with the polytechnicprogram for incoming students, and how to scale up the successful polytechnic modelimplemented in small cohorts to a much larger group.Additionally, the polytechnic approach focuses on skill competencies rather than the traditionalcourse credit tracking for student achievement. A competency-based methodology utilizesdemonstrated learning by the student and can be challenging due to a more open and student-driven process that allows for multiple paths for achievement. The polytechnic approach tolearning emphasizes learning by researching and doing, risk taking, and the blending of liberalarts into technical subject matter and education. The faculty members involved in polytechnicinstruction are active as mentors to the students, providing guidance as the students strategicallyplan out their own educational paths. This approach intrinsically motivates students and providesgraduates that better meet the needs of industry.This paper will document the process followed to transition from a traditional instructional unitto a polytechnic focused department, will report on the challenges encountered and overcome,will provide initial results and feedback, and will discuss potential plans for the future. Adiscussion on the concept of a polytechnic institution, its definition, and transformative naturewill be included to clarify the reasons behind this radical and somewhat unsettling approach toeducation reformation.

Connolly, P. E., & Garcia Bravo, E., & Bertoline, G. R., & Hassan, R. P. (2015, June), Transforming a Computer Graphics Department from Traditional Education Methods to a Polytechnic Approach Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24937

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